In Memoriam – Founding Chair of OMM 1940-2015

BUIES CREEK, North Carolina – With deepest sympathy and sadness, Campbell University Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine, announces the passing of William F. Morris, DO, Founding Chair of the Department of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine on November 4, 2015.

Physician, professor, friend, mentor, and advocate for patients, students, and the osteopathic profession, Dr. Morris came to Campbell in the fall of 2012 and developed the osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) curriculum for the new medical school.

“Our hearts are grieved by his passing, and CUSOM is honored to have a fantastic OMM curriculum as part of his legacy here,” said Dr. John Kauffman, founding dean of Campbell’s medical school. “Dr. Morris’s passion for osteopathic medicine and for teaching was immediately apparent the first time I spoke with him and was a constant throughout his career and tenure with CUSOM.”

Medicine was not Dr. Morris’s first career.  Before entering medical school, he served as a paratrooper in the United States Army and had a variety of other careers including photography in New York City achieving a cover photo for Life magazine before moving into other fields.  As a Senior Policy Analyst for the Social Security Administration in Washington D.C., Morris along with others, helped craft the low-income energy assistance program, a precursor to the current LIHEAP legislation, for which he earned a Commissioner’s Citation. He was an avid motorcyclist; he co-founded the Motorcycle Safety League of Virginia and taught motorcycle safety to police officers in Virginia and to Peace Corps volunteers in several Central American countries and in Senegal, West Africa.  During this time, he also served as an EMT for the Henrico County Rescue Squad in Richmond, Virginia.

Dr. Morris’s road to osteopathic medicine did not begin until he was in his forties, when, after years of back pain, he experienced immediate relief following manipulation from an osteopathic physician.   Subsequently, he applied to and graduated from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine and became board certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Neuromuscular Medicine and OMM, the American Osteopathic Board of Rehabilitation Medicine, and the American Board of Holistic Medicine; he also earned a Certificate of Competency from the Cranial Academy.  Dr. Morris was also a member of several professional organizations:  the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), the American Academy of Osteopathy (AAO), the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA; currently the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine – AIHM), and the North Carolina Osteopathic Medical Association (NCOMA).

Dr. Morris practiced medicine in several states and had solo private practices in Minnesota and Virginia. In clinical practice, he applied osteopathic principles to a wide variety of clinical conditions and utilized osteopathic diagnosis and treatment to help patients optimize patient health, body-mind-spirit. Treating patients was one of his great joys, but his other great joy was teaching in Osteopathic Medical education.

Before joining the Campbell medical faculty, Dr. Morris was Course Director at A. T. Still University-School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona, Founding Chair of the Department of Osteopathic Principles and Practice at TouroCOM in Harlem, New York City, and Chair of the Department of Osteopathic Principles and Practice at University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kansas City.  Additionally, through the course of his career, he taught at two other osteopathic medical schools: University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, ME (UNECOM – his alma mater) and Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (OSUCOM), in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was a leader in osteopathic medicine throughout his career continually working with colleagues across the country and collaborating through the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine to advance the teaching of osteopathic medicine.  As Chair of OMM, he had the opportunity to participate in the Educational Council on Osteopathic Principles (ECOP), and served as a Level II item-writer for the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME) for many years.

As Chair of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine at CUSOM, Dr. Morris designed a curriculum that not only ignited a passion for the profession in his students, but also received commendations for its excellence from the national accrediting body, the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation.  Dr. Morris announced his retirement in June 2015, and Campbell faculty, staff, and students gathered for a reception honoring him and his legacy at CUSOM.
At the reception, Phillip Deal, the inaugural class student body president, shared “He is a man who wears his passion on his sleeve – for his profession, for us students, and for the combination of those two elements through a dedication to educating the next generations of physicians. We are blessed to have seen that passion and, for lack of a better word, to have been infected by it every day.”

Dr. Morris mentored CUSOM students through the process of establishing a student run free clinic, the Campbell Community Care Clinic, and established an OMM Teaching Assistant program.

In 2014, the School of Osteopathic Medicine honored Dr. Morris’s legacy with the establishment of the William F. Morris OMM Scholarship for students in good academic standing who participate in the Teaching Assistant program for the OMM department in their second year and who demonstrate a willingness and ability to help others.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the William F. Morris OMM Scholarship by contacting the Campbell University Advancement Office (800) 334-4111 PO Box 116, Buies Creek, NC 27506.

Dr. Morris is survived by his wife Dr. Carol Morris.

A memorial service for Dr. Morris will be held at the Raleigh Friends Meeting at 625 Tower Street, Raleigh, NC, on a date to be announced.